Bradford A proved that their defeat of York RI A was no fluke by defeating Sheffield A 5½-2½. This means that Bradford A move to the top of the table as the only unbeaten team with the heavyweight teams of recent years two points behind. York RI A reclaimed second with a 6½-1½ victory over Sheffield D.
At the other end of the table Alwoodley lost narrowly 3-5 to Hull DCA A which unfortunately means that they cannot now escape the drop. The second part of the relegation battle saw a deadlock as Harrogate A and Bradford Central drew with Huddersfield and Calderdale A respectively to leave the status quo unchanged.
Leeds CCCC started their victory lap with a 6½-1½ defeat of Hull DCA B. More attention was being focused on the Wakefield A vs Sheffield B clash which resulted in a 5½- 2½ win for the visitors who move to within an inch of promotion. Of their rivals Bradford B beat Harrogate B 7-1 to retain a theoretical chance while Doncaster fell back, losing 2½-5½ to Calderdale B.
At the other end Sheffield E took two valuable points against York RI D and left Harrogate B isolated in the second relegation slot with one round remaining.
Obviously Bradford already had much to celebrate but I hope they found time to congratulate their C Team who inflicted Pontefract’s first loss; however Pontefract maintain a commanding position at the head of the table. Sheffield F edged out West Leeds 4½-3½ to move into clear second while Wakefield B fell back losing 2½-5½ to Dewsbury and are now out of the promotion battle.
There is now just one more round to go in the top two divisions but with a month between rounds, the tension is going to build. In the Woodhouse things are looking very good for Bradford A but one more hurdle remains – local rivals Bradford Central who beat them last year and would love to be the ones to dance in the rain that ruins Bradford A’s parade.
In the event that Bradford A falter (a draw would be enough for victory) things could still hinge upon the Sheffield A vs York RI A match which both teams will no doubt want to win as a matter of pride anyway. In terms of the league situation two points need to be highlighted;
a) both York RI A and Sheffield A have more game points than Bradford A. If Bradford lose the winner of York vs Sheffield WILL win. HOWEVER …
b) for either team to win the league the match MUST be decisive. A draw would gift the result to Bradford A whether they win or lose and if David Adams and Jeremy Hamm shake hands on a drawn match only to find that Bradford A have lost I’ll probably hear the squeals of anguish in Harrogate!
Of course Bradford Central don’t just have a role in the championship scrap; they are also involved in the relegation fight as Harrogate A host Hull DCA A and will be hoping for the two points that might save them at the last gasp.
To add a cherry to the last round cake Calderdale A are currently just edging out York RI B for fourth by virtue of one game point with Rose Forgrove A a point behind. Given the dominance of the top three fourth is a considerable achievement and all three of these teams could take this position.
With the IM Brown title decided the attention will be on Sheffield B who just need to secure victory against York RI D to ensure a Woodhouse place for next season. If Sheffield falter Bradford B could gain promotion with a win against Wakefield A. However the relegation fight is arguably more intriguing – Harrogate B must defeat Hull DCA B by a large enough margin to make up the game point deficit between them while Sheffield E have to be wary of a few possible permutations when they face Calderdale B.
The Silver Rook still has two rounds plus a postponed fixture to play and whether there is last round drama depends on a couple of results. Pontefract host West Leeds and just need a draw to be able to hold their deferred victory celebration. Sheffield F travel to Bradford C and victory for them would ensure promotion (the earlier match between the two teams ended in a draw).